REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Micklegate Singers, St Lawrence Church, York, March 24

Micklegate Singers: “Laying out a typically adventurous menu”

IN a Lent-themed programme entitled Beyond The World, the Micklegate Singers under Nicholas Carter laid out a typically adventurous menu built round the first complete performance of A Quaker Trilogy, featuring three composers responding to a text by William Penn.

Renaissance motets framed mainly living composers reflecting on life and death. At the start, Manuel Cardoso’s setting of a lesson for Maundy Thursday matins showed admirable restraint, well suited to a slow-moving soprano line against more active polyphony in the lower voices. His style typified the mid-17th century Portuguese penchant for colourful harmony, which was conveyed neatly here.

At the end of the evening, dynamic contrasts and smooth metre-changing lent Byrd’s Haec Dies plenty of excitement. Owing more than a little to its style was Howells’ setting of the same text, heard immediately before, with its leaping octaves before the final climax every bit as exultant.

Rhythmic spice was less evident in many of the modern works. The various sections of Matthew Martin’s Missa Brevis (St Dominic), interspersed through the first half, were a welcome exception, with a particularly lively ‘Gloria’ and carefree abandon at the first ‘Hosanna’ in the Sanctus.

On paper, the Penn trilogy looked like an excellent idea. But the chosen passage, doubtless well known to Quakers from its use at memorial meetings, but less so to those of other faiths, was heavily freighted with eschatological philosophy and not an obvious choice for musical setting. For its meaning to remain clear, it required delicate handling and minimal use of polyphony, a severe handicap to the University of York composers concerned.

The poster for the Micklegate Singers’ Beyond The World concert

David McGregor took some time to thin his texture into clarity, before reaching a spacious close evoking eternity. Joe Bates began chordally and was alive to the flow of words, even introducing some humming, before a thoughtful finish. Frederick Viner, the only one to set the entire passage, also took a mainly chordal approach, concluding with a low-lying intimacy that respected the text’s vision.

All three settings had something positive to offer. But it is doubtful whether they should be heard consecutively; they were not on this occasion. Having the same text set by three composers simultaneously is perhaps not such a great idea: who wants to hear the same message three times over? But don’t take my word for it. The three versions will be heard together on June 8 at The Mount School, at 1pm, as part of the York Festival of Ideas (entrance is free).

Other contributions, all tastefully handled, came from Ivo Antognini, whose modal Lux Aeterna benefited from gentle counterpoint and close harmony, and Ben Parry’s thoughtful Lighten Our Darkness.

James Whitbourn, who had died at the age of 60 only 12 days earlier, was represented by He Carried Me Away In The Spirit, a slow-moving meditation from the Book of Revelation memorable for its ecstatic phrase on ‘holy Jerusalem’.

Best of all these, however, was James MacMillan’s Who Shall Separate Us?, which keeps its words from Romans paramount. Its very high forceful Alleluia before an extremely hushed Amen were superbly done.

The Micklegate Singers are Yorkshire’s most adventurous chamber choir. Long may they remain so.

Review by Martin Dreyer

More Things To Do in York and beyond when Pride comes before a full diary of big ideas. Hutch’s List No.23, from The Press

Claire Richards: Taking Steps to headline York Pride’s main stage

PRIDE is loud and proud this weekend in a city full of ideas, heated politics and apocalyptic music, as recommended by Charles Hutchinson.

Diverse celebration of the week: York Pride, city-centre parade at 12 noon, followed by festival until after-hours on Knavesmire

NORTH Yorkshire’s largest LGBT+ celebration sets out on a parade march from Duncombe Place, outside York Minster, processing along Bishopthorpe Road to the festival site on Knavesmire.

Hosted by Sordid Secret and Mamma Bear, the Main Stage welcomes Claire Richards, from Steps, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK finalist Kitty Scott-Claus. Plenty more acts take to the YOI Radio Stage and Family Area and the new Queer Arts Cabaret Tent (1.30pm to 7pm, headlined by York’s pink-attired Beth McCarthy). Full festival details at:

In the pink: Beth McCarthy tops the Queer Arts Cabaret Tent bill at York Pride this evening

Festival of the week and beyond: York Festival of Ideas 2023, until June 15

THIS University of York co-ordinated festival invites you to Rediscover, Reimagine, Rebuild in a programme of more than 150 free in-person and online events designed to educate, entertain and inspire. 

Meet world-class speakers, experience performances, join entertaining family activities, explore York on guided tours and more! Topics range from archaeology to art, history to health and politics to psychology. Study the festival programme at

Ocean-loving Kent violinist and composer Anna Phoebe performs her Sea Soul album with Klara Schumann and Jacob Kingsbury Downs at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tonight at 7pm as part of the York Festival of Ideas. Picture; Rob Blackham

Don’t myth it: The Flanagan Collective in The Gods The Gods The Gods, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm; Slung Low at Temple, Water Lane, Holbeck, Leeds, tomorrow, 7.30pm (outdoor performance); Hull Truck Theatre, Stage One, June 29, 7.30pm

WRIGHT & Grainger’s myth-making The Gods The Gods The Gods is performed as a 12-track album in an exhilarating weave of big beats, heavy basslines, soaring melodies and heart-stopping spoken word. In the absence of co-creators Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Megan Drury in New York and Australia respectively, Easingwold birthday boy Phil Grainger, 34 today, will be joined by Oliver Towse and Lucinda Turner from the West End original cast of Wright’s The Great Gatsby.

The 65-minute performance links stories of two youngsters who meet when out dancing, destined to fall hard; a woman on a beach, alone at night, looking at the stars, and a bloke on a bridge, thinking about jumping, just before dark, all at the crossroads where mythology meets real life. Box office: York, 01904 623568 or; Leeds,; Hull, 01482 323638 or

Upwards and onwards: Oliver Towse, left, Lucinda Turner and Phil Grainger survey the auditorium ahead of their Harrogate Theatre performance of The God The Gods The Gods. York, Leeds and Hull dates lie ahead

Comedy gig of the week: Patrick Monahan, Classy, Pocklington Arts Centre, tonight, 8pm

IN a world of groups, hierarchies and class systems, everyone tries so hard to fit in. What’s wrong with being a misfit? Be you, be proud!

From the caravan to the middle-class neighbourhood, Irish-Iranian comedian Patrick Monahan, 46, has taken four decades to realise this. Time for the Edinburgh Fringe regular to pass on his observations on living his contemporary life alongside stories of his upbringing. Box office: 01759 301547 or

Patrick Monahan: Classy performance at Pocklington Arts Centre

Apocalypse now: Late Music presents Late Music Ensemble, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, tonight, 7.30pm

YORK Late Music concludes its 2022-23 season on a spectacular – if not entirely optimistic! – note tonight when the Late Music Ensemble, conducted by Nick Williams, opens up the End Of The World Jukebox.

Composers and players re-imagine the pop songs they would like to hear if Armageddon were nigh in arrangements of Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek, David Bowie’s Warszawa, Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye and Bob Dylan’s Cat’s In The Well. The Beatles will be represented by The End from Abbey Road, alongside new works by Christopher Fox and Anthony Adams.

Williams’s nine-strong ensemble promises a broad musical spectrum through the presence of Edwina Smith (flute, piccolo), Jonathan Sage (clarinet, bass clarinet), Iain Harrison and Lucy Havelock (saxophones), Murphy McCaleb (bass trombone), Kate Ledger (piano, toy piano, voice), Tim Brooks (keyboards, piano), Catherine Strachan (cello) and Anna Snow (voice).

Due to unforeseen circumstances, today’s lunchtime concert by Stuart O’Hara has been postponed. It will, however, be rescheduled in the 2023-24 season, whose programme will be announced in the next few months.

While the End of the World cannot be avoided, York Late Music adminstrator Steve Crowther is an optimist who believes that, for now at least, the end is no nigher. A 6.45pm, pre-concert talk by Christopher Fox includes a complimentary glass of wine or fruit juice. Box office: or on the door.

Kate Ledger: Pianist playing in the Late Music Ensemble’s end-is-nigh concert tonight

Folk gig of the week: Spiers & Boden, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, doors 7.30pm

THIS weekend the focus falls on the City of York Roland Walls Folk Weekend at the Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green. Meanwhile, the organisers, the Black Swan Folk Club, have teamed up with The Crescent to present Bellowhead big band cohorts Spiers & Boden in a seated concert next week.

John Spiers and Jon Boden re-formed their instrumental duo in 2021 after a seven-year hiatus to release the album Fallow Ground. Box office:

Seated gig: Folk duo Spiers & Boden atThe Crescent on Wednesday

Defiant gig of the week: Mike Peters presents The Alarm (Acoustic), The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

AFTER a year of health challenges, The Alarm leader Mike Peters returns to the stage this spring with a new album set for release in the summer.

Co-founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, the 64-year-old Welshman will be performing a one-man band electro-acoustic set list of songs from all four decades of The Alarm discography. Box office:

Mike Peters: Setting The Alarm songs acoustically at the Crescent on Thursday

Troubadour of the week: Steve Earle, The Alone Again Tour, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm

AS his tour title suggests, legendary Americana singer, songwriter, producer, actor, playwright, novelist, short story writer and radio presenter Steve Earle will be performing solo and acoustic in York: the only Yorkshire gig of a ten-date itinerary without his band The Dukes that will take in the other Barbican, in London, and Glastonbury.

Born in Fort Monroae National Monument, Hampton, Virginia, Earle grew up in Texas and began his songwriting career in Nashville, releasing his first EP in 1982 and debut album Guitar Town in 1986, since when he has branched out from country music into rock, bluegrass, folk music and blues. Box office:

Steve Earle: Heading from New York to York for the opening night of his British solo tour. Picture: Danny Clinch

Brass at full blast: Shepherd Group Brass Band: Stage And Screen, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, June 10, 7pm

SHEPHERD Group Brass Band’s late-spring concert showcases music from across the repertoire of stage and screen, featuring five bands from the York organisation, ranging from beginners to championship groups, culminating with a grand finale from all the bands. Tickets update: only the last few are still available on 01904 501935 or at

Thalissa Teixeira: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s first black female Brutus in Julius Caesar, directed by Atri Banerjee, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Marc Brenner

Power play: Royal Shakespeare Company in Julius Caesar, York Theatre Royal, June 13 to 17, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and Saturday matinees

ATRI Banerjee directs this fast-paced political thriller on the RSC’s return to York Theatre Royal in a fresh interpretation of Julius Caesar with a female Brutus (Thalissa Teixeira) and non-binary Cassius (Annabel Baldwin) that asks: how far would we go for our principles?

Concerned that divisive leader Julius Caesar (Nigel Barrett) poses a threat to democracy, revolutionaries take the violent decision to murder him but without a plan for what happens next. As the world spins out of control, chaos, horror and superstition rush in to fill the void. Civil war erupts and a new leader must rise, but at what cost? Box office: 01904 623568 or

Crowning glory for American countertenor Reginald Mobley in Coronation concert, followed by York Festival of Ideas event

American countertenor Reginald Mobley: Coronation concert with Monteverdi Choir tomorrow and Festival of Ideas appearance in York next month

AMERICAN countertenor Reginald Mobley will sing with the Monteverdi Choir at King Charles III’s Coronation Ceremony tomorrow (6/5/2023) in London, ahead of his June 13 performance in York.

In his last interview on Wednesday before resting his voice for his 9am Royal engagement, opening the pre-ceremony concert at Westminster Abbey, the Florida-born baroque, classical and modern singer spoke on the phone to CharlesHutchPress.

“I’m just one of the gang, being part of the celebration, singing with the Monteverdi Choir,” he said before crossing the Atlantic from California. “No, I can’t say what we’re singing! I’m on my best behaviour!

“It’s going to be an incredible event, an incredible occasion. I’ve been fortunate, through Sir John Eliot Gardiner [the choir’s founder], to have met King Charles before, and I’ve welcomed his involvement in music, organic farming and highlighting the climate crisis. I’m happy to be involved this weekend.

“But for the past ten-eleven years I’ve lived in Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution!”

Reginald, or Reggie as he likes to be called, will be heading north to York on June 13 to perform with French jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon at the National Centre for Early Music as part of the 2023 York Festival of Ideas.

The focus will be on this month’s debut solo album, Because, a selection of American spiritual songs performed by Mobley with Trotignon, set for release on Alpha Classics on May 26.

“Spirituals are true hymns to resilience, whose beauty and strength of both lyrics and music symbolise hope and faith in humanity,” said Reginald. “This project’s aim is to do justice to this musical heritage and to honour its past performers.”

Reginald Mobley and Baptiste Trotignon: Spirituals album collaboration and tour

Previously, Reginald had recorded and performed with the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra for ten years, along with the Orchestra of St Luke’s, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, Early Music Vancouver, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Seattle.

He has performed too with Baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire and is a regular guest with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Washington Bach Consort and Seraphic Fire. Latterly he recorded American Originals, a collection of spirituals, with Agave Baroque, earning a Grammy nomination in 2022.

For his new recording venture, Didier Martin, head of Alpha Classics, suggested Reginald should partner with a solo pianist “as he knew I liked wild ideas”. “During the pandemic we talked about various ideas and even tried things out together online and got this idea to do something new,” Reginald said.

Reginald collected scores of slave songs and Negro spirituals from the American colonies, born from the pain and tribulations of African people deprived of fundamental rights. Inspired by Old Testament stories of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt, the songs express sorrow, grief, but joy and desire for freedom too.

A hymn to resilience and a symbol of hope and faith in humanity, the spirituals have influenced popular music, from ragtime, barbershop, jazz and gospel to blues, rock, techno and electronic music.

To grant the genre its true place in music history and to honour its original interpreters, Mobley and Trotignon have collaborated on a newly curated programme of songs written by black composers such as HT Burleigh, Florence Price and J Rosamond Johnson, alongside their own improvisational arrangements on original texts.

“I said to Baptiste, ‘don’t try them out the way they are but reinterpret them with your jazz piano and treat them as jazz standards, as all this music comes from slave songs’. Baptiste, being a French pianist, had no connection to these songs the way I did, but we realised it would work really well and Didier loved it,” said Reginald.

“So, in October 2021 I showed up in Paris, and between performances on an opera tour, we recorded the album there and the project has really taken on a life of its own. It’s an interesting exploration of music that often doesn’t get this exposure at home or abroad.”

The cover artwork for Reginald Mobley’s album Because, out on May 26 on Alpha Classics

As well as releasing such a ground-shaking album, Reginald is heavily involved in social and political activism in Boston, particularly in responding to the “massive inequality regarding race, gender, and sexuality within the classical music industry”.

“Slowly I’m starting to push that in Britain, where there’s a lot going on, which is really inspiring and I’m a bit jealous of that, to be honest,” he said.

“We spend so much time trying to find the magic bullet to kill this spectre of racism, but we have to find a better way to do that. Facing the problem of racism in America, we have a country that has tried to move on with half measures, but the problem has still not been solved, and there has been such anger on both sides.”

As a queer black man, Reginald has found himself “living in both worlds and seeing rejection from both worlds as gay culture has absorbed black music and black speech and yet there was this weird reluctance to get involved in the debate about racism,” he said.

“There are so many people who will refuse to acknowledge the racism problem but will listen to Marvin Gaye’s music, or watch the Black Panther movies, or eat fried chicken. But I honestly believe music has a role to play in solving the issue, though I don’t think of musicians as being essential in the world in the way that doctors and nurses are.

“But we have a role to play through the arts in general. We are the guardian of empathy and compassion. If we can get people to stop and listen, to open their hearts through music, then maybe change can happen.”

Reflecting on bringing the songs of Burleigh, Price and Johnson into the spotlight, Reginald said: “It’s sad that we don’t give more attention to the roots of these songs, but what’s important now is to have the conversation about why these things should never happen again, so that we solve the ignorance surrounding racism.”

As a singer of Early music, Reginald said “we need to realise that there is so much that connects us”, citing the German music that emerged from the horror of the Thirty Years’ War, when only a year after the war started in 1618, the first slave ships started landing and “our path began”.  

“Growing up as a very poor boy in the Deep South, this is in no way the path I would have expected to be walking in my life,” says countertenor Reginald Mobley

“Handel was writing his music, processing grief and reacting to tragedy, at the same time as we were singing in the fields,” he noted. “How sad for us to have our issues for so long and that it’s taking so long for change to come.”

Raised by his grandparents in Gainesville, Florida, in the American Deep South, Reginald first sang in church: the routine “origin story”, he said. “My background is in gospel music. My grandparents wouldn’t allow classical music in the house as there was this belief that ‘it’s not for non-whites’, and yet we’ve always had music in our lives.

“But growing up as a very poor boy in the Deep South, this is in no way the path I would have expected to be walking in my life, and no matter what, I’m still going to be this African-American guy representing those who bled and died so that I can make music freely.”

Reginald concluded: “I am not myself if I don’t have hope that things are changing. I always believe in moving forward and that if we keep on the path, things may change.

“I may not see the consequences but the idea that someone will do so later is what fills me with hope. That’s what we should always be thinking about: that it’s not about us now but that those who come after us will live better life than we do. That’s when the barriers of sexual orientation, race and gender can be eroded.”

York Festival of Ideas presents Reginald Mobley & Baptiste Trotignon, National Centre for Early Music, June 13, 7.30pm. Dr Matthew Williams, from the University of York music department, will give an illustrated talk from 6.30pm to 7pm and lead a short Q&A with the musicians after the concert. Box office: 01904 658338 or

REGINALD Mobley and Baptiste Trotignon will appear at the BBC Proms at Sage Gateshead on July 23, performing American spiritual songs such as Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen, My Lord What A Morning, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Steal Away, Great Campmeetin, By And By, Save Me Lord, and There Is A Balm In Gilead. The 2pm programme will include three Florence Price works: Because, Resignation and Sunset. Box office:

Did you know?

REGINALD Mobley’s first professional work was in musical theatre, and while working in Japan as a singer/actor for Tokyo Disney, he performed cabaret shows of gospel, jazz and torch songs in jazz clubs around Tokyo.

Did you know too?

IN Europe, Reginald has performed with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchester Wiener Akademie, Balthasar Neumann Chor & Ensemble, Bach Society in Stuttgart and Holland Baroque Orchestra.

Navigators Art collective explores visions, surrealism and the subconscious mind in Dream Time exhibition at City Screen

Detail of textile art by Katie Lewis, from Navigators Art’s Dream Time exhibition at City Screen Picturehouse

YORK collective Navigators Art’s Dream Time exhibition at City Screen Picturehouse, York, takes inspiration from dreams, visions, surrealism and the mysteries and fantasies of the subconscious mind.

Part One is on show in the upstairs gallery from this week, joined by Part Two from March 19 in the café bar, where the official opening event with drinks will be held from 7.30pm to 9.30pm that night.

Dream Time’s mixed-media show features painting by Steve Beadle and Peter Roman; collage, prints and drawing by Richard Kitchen; photography and painting by Nick Walters and textiles by Katie Lewis.

Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen says: “We’re pleased to return to City Screen after our Moving Pictures show there this time last year.

“Since then, the group has quadrupled in number to cover our three-month residency at the StreetLife Hub, in Coney Street, and now includes musicians and other performers.”

Richard adds: “Not all of us are involved in this show as we have several other events to look forward to this year. A couple of us have individual exhibitions coming up too. There’s a limit to how much work anyone can make!

“All the artists taking part have interpreted the Dream Time theme in different ways and through different media.”

A selection of Navigators Art artworks on display at City Screen, York

Navigators Art & Performance is a 16-piece collective of York artists, writers, musicians and performers with a wide range of age, experience and practice. Founded in 2019, the collective’s mission is to work with community groups and projects, to enhance and creatively interpret their activities for as wide an audience as possible.

In 2022, Navigators Art curated the art for York Theatre Royal’s Takeover Festival, then took over the basement of the government-funded StreetLife Hub project for the Coney Street Jam exhibition from October 2022 to January 2023.

“We’ve just finished exhibiting our Moving Pictures 2 show at Helmsley Arts Centre, and we’ll be part of York Festival of Ideas in June, presenting art and performance events at York Explore Library and other venues,” says Richard.

“We’re always seeking interesting venues in which to show and sell work by our members to the public. Our shows feature drawing, painting, collage, projection, sculpture, 3D constructions, photography, prints, textiles and sound installations, as well as words by our writers and music by our resident composer, Dylan Thompson.

“Our artists have had work featured in exhibitions and publications both online and actual, and several have been selected for York Open Studios.”

Navigators Art has mentored several emerging young artists too. “We encourage enquiries from potential collaborators, particularly those who are less established or underrepresented, and who have no regular platform for displaying work,” says Richard, who can be contacted via

Navigators Art presents Dream Time at City Screen Picturehouse, St Martin’s Courtyard, Coney Street, York, until April 21. The exhibition is open daily from approximately 11am until the end of the day’s last film screening.

The poster for Navigators Art’s Dream Time show and launch night event

More Things To Do in York and beyond as city welcomes Ukrainian dancers and bees buzz. List No. 86, courtesy of The Press

Poised for Theatre Royal performance: Kyiv City Ballet dancers, heading from Paris to York

FROM Ukrainian dancers to the ukulele, hairdryer music to German comedy, a new but ancient story to medieval street plays, Charles Hutchinson has a fiesta of ideas for venturing out.

Cultural/political event of the week: Kyiv City Ballet, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm, sold out

AT the invitation of Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird, the dancers of Kyiv City Ballet are to perform in Britain for the first time since taking up temporary residence in Paris after Russia invaded Ukraine. All ticket sale proceeds from the sold-out show will be donated to UNICEF’s Ukraine Appeal.

Under the direction of Ivan Kozlov and Ekaterina Kozlova, a company dance class will be followed by excerpts from  Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, contemporary pieces and a premiere. 

To bee or not to bee: The Mind Of A Bee is the subject of Lars Chittka’s online talk on June 14 at 8pm at the York Festival of Ideas

Festival of the week: York Festival of Ideas, today to June 24

UNDER the banner of The Next Chapter, more than 150 free in-person and online events promise to educate, entertain and inspire in a festival of speakers, performers, panel discussions, family fun activities and guided tours.

Topics span archaeology to art, history to health and politics to psychology, from the natural history of slime to female Rugby League players; secret Beatles lyrics to the mind of a bee; Holgate Mill to Frankie Howerd. Head to to download a brochure.

Thomas Truax with The Hornicator, left, and Mother Superior, two of his wonderfully weird instruments

Double bills of the week: Songs Under Skies, Mayshe-Mayshe & Thomas Truax, Monday; Testament and Maddie Morris, Wednesday, National Centre for Early Music, York, both 7pm

SONGS Under Skies takes over the gardens of St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, for the third time for two nights of outdoor live music by four musicians making their NCEM debuts.

Mayshe-Mayshe, alias Alice Rowan, blends dreamy art-pop with rich storytelling, her songs incorporating choral vocals, vintage synths and the occasional hairdryer. Thomas Truax, an American musician with a mad scientist’s brain, utilises weird self-made instruments in songs about insects, trees, technology and all things lunar.

Lyrical rapper, human beatboxer and composer Testament is joined BBC Radio2 Young Folk Award winner Maddie Morris, from Leeds, whose protest songs address LGBTQ rights, feminism and trauma issues. Box office: 01904 658338 or

Formidable on four strings: George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Anarchy in the Ukulele? George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday, 7.30pm

QUESTION: Who is to blame for the worldwide phenomena of ukulele orchestras and ukulelemania? The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, that’s who!

Led by George Hinchliffe, these independent rock-stars of the “bonsai guitar” promise entertainment, joy, fun, strum and artistry on four strings on all manner of cover versions from the pop, rock and musical worlds beyond. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

How the land lies: Storyteller Alexander Flanagan Wright deep in thought in the the field behind Stillington Mill

Storytelling premiere of the week: Alexander Flanagan Wright, Monster, Work In Progress, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Thursday and Friday, 7.30pm. UPDATE: 13/6/2022: POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Ticket holders will be refunded.

A BLOKE in a fancy suit is stood in the Nevada desert. A warrior holding the head of Medusa is stood on top of a hill. The sky is lit bright with the neon lights of Vegas. We are trying to set foot in places no-one has ever been.

So runs the introduction to Alexander Flanagan Wright’s Monster, wherein he sets out to tell a story about finding places that we should never have found, about the difference between discovery and ownership, and the need to be a hero.

“Some of that story happens now. Some of it happens millennia ago. All of it is to do with people,” he says, welcoming instant feedback at the story’s close. Box office:

Roarsome! The Tyrannosaurus Rex rocks up in Dinosaur World Live

Children’s show of the week: Dinosaur World Live, York Theatre Royal, June 17, 4.30pm; June 18 and 19, 11am and 2pm

DARE to experience the dangers and delights of this interactive family show for age three upwards as intrepid explorers discover a prehistoric world of remarkably lifelike dinosaurs in a mind-bending 50-minute Jurassic adventure whose arrival in York just happens to coincide with the big-screen opening of Jurassic World Dominion.
Watch out for the flesh-eating, giant Tyrannosaurus Rex and the supporting cast of a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosauris. A 15-minute meet and greet post-show offers the chance to be up close and personal with these creatures. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Wringing endorsement for German comedian Henning Wehn

Comedy top-up? Just say Wehn: Henning Wehn, It’ll All Come Out In The Wash, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

HENNING Wehn, Germany’s Comedy Ambassador and former marketing ideas man for Wycombe Wanderers Football Club to boot, plays York Barbican for the first time since his impatient Great Yorkshire Fringe gig in July 2019, Get On With It!

On his return, Wehn gives everything a good rinse as he wrings sense out of the nonsensical. “An unbiased look at a certain virus might be inevitable but I have no agenda,” says Wehn. “I just happen to be always spot on. It’s a curse.” Box office:

Duran Duran: Playing the stately pile of Castle Howard

Open-air gig of the week: Duran Duran, Castle Howard, near York, Friday, supported by Dry Cleaning; gates open at 5pm

FRESH from one outdoor engagement by the Buckingham Palace gates with guest guitarist Nile Rodgers at last Saturday’s Platinum Party At The Palace, Duran Duran play another in Castle Howard’s grounds.

The Birmingham darlings of New Romantic synthpop will be complementing last weekend’s brace of Notorious and Girls On Film with such Eighties’ favourites as Planet Earth, Save A Prayer, Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. Could last October’s 15th studio album, Future Past, feature too? Tickets update: still available at or

Taking the chair: Paul Morel in Oddbodies’ one-man King Lear

Shakespeare shake-up of the week: Oddbodies’ King Lear, Helmsley Arts Centre, June 18, 7.30pm

ARMED with only a drum, a guitar, a knife and a chair, Oddbodies’ inventive, irreverent one-man account of Shakespeare’s King Lear is told from The Fool’s point of view by writer-performer Paul Morel.

Directed by John Mowat, he brings all the characters from this sad and sorry tale to glorious life, from the bipolar Lear to the bastard Edmund, haughty Goneril to poor deluded Gloucester, oily Oswald to sweet Cordelia and mad Tom, in a fast, funny, poignant and ultimately heart-breaking production full of physical ingenuity and visual flair. Box office: 01439 771700 or at

2022 York Mystery Plays artistic director Tom Straszewski, pictured with Jess Murray, who is directing The Appearance Of Jesus To Mary Magdalene for the Guild of Media Arts and Guild of Scriveners

Street plays of the month: Guilds of York present York Mystery Plays, York city centre, June 19 and 26, 11am onwards; The Mysteries In The Market, Shambles Market, June 22 and 23, 7.30pm

EIGHT plays from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays will be wheeled around York city centre on wagons for Sunday performances, processing from College Green (free) to St Sampson’s Square (free), St Helen’s Square (free) and King’s Manor (ticketed).

Those plays include York Guild of Building’s Creation To The Fifth Day; the Company of Butchers and Riding Lights Acting Up’s The Crucifixion and Death Of Christ, the Guild of Media Arts and Guild of Scriveners’ The Appearance Of Jesus To Mary Magdalene and the Company of Merchant Adventurers’ The Last Judgement, directed by Alan and Diane Heaven, no less.

In addition, a selection of five plays will be staged in special Midsummer midweek performances at the Shambles Market (ticketed, limited to 100). Box office:

Hope springs eternal in jam-packed concert season at National Centre for Early Music

Cantoria: Celebrating Early Music Day with El Jubilate concert on March 18

THE Spring Season is up and running at the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York.

In a busy first week, last Monday, folkloric duo Heal & Harrow’s Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl paid a humanising tribute to those persecuted in the 16th and 17th century Scottish witch trials.

Last Friday, the Grace Smith Trio – Smith on fiddle, Sam Patridge, concertina, and Bevan Morris, double bass – performed with the participants in the National Youth Folk Ensemble (NYFE) programme, under the artistic direction of Partridge. The NCEM hosted the NYFE’s first residency in two years for workshops leading up to the concluding concert.

Saturday’s University of York Song Day took the theme of Shakespeare In Love in a programme devised by pianist and Ryedale Festival director Christopher Glynn, who was joined in a lunchtime concert by soprano Rowan Pierce and tenor Ed Lyon and later by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge in a masterclass for student singers.

Moishe’s Bagel: Door-to-door delivery of klezmer and folk music on March 9

The University of York Baroque+ Day will follow on June 4 with the theme of 100 Years In Berlin: a day to explore the musical life of the Prussian capital – from the Baroque to the early Romantic period – in three concerts in the company of the University Baroque Ensemble, under the direction of Rachel Gray and guest leader Catherine Martin; pianist and broadcaster David Owen Norris and classical wind specialists Boxwood & Brass.

On Sunday evening, the Songlines Encounters Festival presented Kayhan Kalhor and fellow Iranian, musician and composer Kiya Tabassian, Kalhor’s student of many years, in an evening of exquisite improvisations. Kalhor is a virtuoso of the Persian spiked fiddle, the kamancheh, but here he performed on the setar, a four-stringed lute with 25 movable frets, often associated with Sufism.

“Our spring season is jam-packed with musical delights, welcoming in a new year with more than a little hope that 2022 will be happier and healthier for us all,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin.

“Guest artists will include some of the finest folk, jazz, global and early music specialists on the circuit today, with highlights including the welcome return of sax virtuoso Snake Davis, the ever-entertaining Moishe’s Bagel and folk legends Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, whose concert is finally on after repeated postponements in lockdown.

NCEM director Delma Tomlin: “Welcoming in a new year with more than a little hope that 2022 will be happier and healthier for us all”

“As ever, we offer a warm welcome to artists from across the world and are particularly delighted to welcome the vibrant strings of VOŁOSI; qanun specialist Maya Youssef, from Syria, and the sparklingly young vocal ensemble Cantoria from Spain. All are guaranteed to bring warmth, entertainment and joy to our audiences.”

Coming next, on March 9, will be the return of Edinburgh’s Moishe’s Bagel with their cutting-edge klezmer and folk music, combining life-affirming Eastern European dance music, Middle Eastern rhythms and virtuoso improvised performances. Expect new pieces alongside favourites.

On March 11, Scottish folk duo Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham combine humorous banter with heartstring-tugging tunes, joyous reels and melodies aplenty in a partnership that has runs to 30 years now.

Booked for March 17, powerhouse English folk trio Faustus have spent much of the past two years researching and writing new material from the poetry of the 1860s’ Lancashire Cotton Famine, resulting in moving new songs, as heard on the Cotton Lords EP. 

Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham: Playing together for three decades

In the line-up will be Benji Kirkpatrick, from the Seth Lakeman Band, Steeleye Span and Bellowhead; Saul Rose, from Waterson:Carthy, Eliza Carthy’s Wayward Band and Whapweazel, and Paul Sartin, from Bellowhead and Belshazzar’s Feast.

Cantoría celebrate the 2022 Early Music Day with El Jubilate, a March 18 programme drawn from the Spanish songbooks of the Renaissance, brimful of desire, passion and sin, but fiery devotion, love, joy and solitude too.

At 7pm, Cantoria – featuring soprano Inés Alonso, countertenor Oriol Guimera, tenor Jorge Losana and bass Valentin Miralles – explore a world of demons, saints and people that lived with the same complicated emotions that we face today.

This Spanish ensemble gave a performance at the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival four years and have participated in the EEEMerging+ programme for two years. They will be in residence at the NCEM in March, leading up to the concert.

Trish Clowes with her My Iris band members: Seeing eye to eye in York on May 3. Picture: Brian Homer

Innovative folk accordionist, vocalist and clog dancer Hannah James, a key figure in the revival of English percussive dance, unites with globetrotting, post-classical, improvisational French cellist Toby Kuhn for Sleeping Spirals, an April 8 concert full of playful chemistry, warmth and soul, as they resume their new project started last autumn.

On April 20, led by British composer and violinist Christian Garrick, Budapest Café Orchestra perform a blistering barrage of traditional folk and gypsy- flavoured music that takes in the Balkans and Russia, Klezmer laments, Romanian doinas, Hungarian czadas and their own re-imaginings of big tunes by classical greats.

Flook, in the NCEM diary for April 27, take inspiration from Irish and English sources, weaving and spinning traditionally rooted tunes over precise acoustic grooves with a bold, adventurous musical imagination, as whistle player Brian Finnegan, flautist Sarah Allen, guitarist Ed Boyd and bodhran player Joihn Joe Kelly have been doing for more than 25 years.

Saxophonist-to-the-stars Snake Davis is welcomed back to the NCEM on April 28, this time in a new venture with arranger, composer and pianist Robin A Smith, musical director for the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012.

Snake Davis and Robin A Smith: New venture at the NCEM on April 28

Sparring partners for decades, spearheading the Classic Chillout movement 20 years ago, they now team up to celebrate the joy and power of classical, folk, pop and jazz music.

Another saxophonist, Trish Clowes, leads her jazz band My Iris in their York debut on May 3, providing pianist Ross Stanley, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer James Maddren with a high-intensity platform for individual expression and improvisation, delivering driving grooves and lingering melodic lines, as they “seamlessly morph between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes”.

The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival returns to the NCEM on May 10 to present the 1929 Indian box-office smash A Throw Of The Dice (PG), accompanied by an improvised live score by Utsav Lal, a young Indian pianist noted for his innovative piano renditions of Hindustani ragas.

Based on an episode from The Mahabarata, this lavishly romantic silent film tells the story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman. Filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-star Indian cast, it rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle.

VOŁOSI : Seeking to “exceed the limits of string instruments” on May 23

After 700 concerts in 34 countries, the string-driven VOŁOSI make their NCEM debut on May 23, led by violinist Krzysztof Lasoń and cellist Stanisław Lasoń, who first joined forces with traditional performers deep in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains in 2010. From those roots, the Polish band seek to “exceed the limits of string instruments” with their modern, powerful and emotional playing.

On June 9, Maya Youssef, queen of the qanun, the 78-stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither, showcases Finding Home, an album that takes a journey through memories and the essence of home, both within and without, as she explores the emotional and healing qualities of music.

“It’s about finding that place of peace, that place of softness, comfort and healing, which manifests in everyone in a unique way, from finding home in nature to the people who make us feel that sense of relief and peace,” says Maya, who will be joined by the musicians from the recording sessions that were rooted in the Arabic classical tradition but forged pathways into jazz, Western classical and flamenco styles too.

For Maya, who was born in Damascus, Syria, and has lived in the UK since 2012, the act of playing music is a both a life and hope-affirming act and an antidote to what is happening, not only in Syria, but across the world.

This will be the first of three concerts to be staged at the NCEM under the umbrella of the York Festival of Ideas. In the second, on June 12, guitarist, composer and ukulele virtuoso Richard Durrant at last cycles into York on his Covid-delayed Music For Midsummer musical pilgrimage from Orkney to Brighton Open Air Theatre for the summer solstice.

Maya Youssef: Finding Home at the NCEM on June 9

Expect plenty of tales from the road, as well as original guitar music, British-flavoured folk and Bach on the uke as he celebrates the release of his Rewilding album.

For the third concert, double bassist and composer Alison Rayner leads her vibrant, award-winning quintet through “songs without words” on June 17 in the company of Buster Birch, drums, Deirdre Cartwright, guitar, Diane McLoughlin, saxophones, and Steve Lodder, piano.  

Their music-making combines richly nuanced compositions, rhythmic interplay and folk-infused melodies with a cinematic quality, a love of improvisation and a strong sense of narrative.

Already booked for the autumn are She’koyokh, an international seven-piece klezmer and Balkan band from London, on October 30 (6.30pm) and Scottish fiddler, composer John McCusker, celebrating his 30th anniversary as a professional musician, on November 2.

Performances start at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise. Box office: 01904 658338 or at

More Things To Do in York and beyond that Euro football tournament. It’s all kicking off in List No. 36, courtesy of The Press, York

What’s the pecking order here? Twirlywoos Live! at York Theatre Royal

EUROS 2020? What Euro 2020? The sun is out and so is Charles Hutchinson’s diary as he points you in the direction of curious CBeebies favourites, acoustic concerts, a dockyard Romeo & Juliet, a large painting, Clough v Leeds United and more ideas aplenty. 

Children’s show of the week: Twirlywoos Live!, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow at 1.30pm and 4pm; Saturday, Sunday, 10am and 2pm

TOODLOO, Great BigHoo, Chick and Peekaboo set sail for York on board their Big Red Boat for their Theatre Royal theatrical adventure Twirlywoos Live!.

Curious, inquisitive and eager to learn about the world, these small, bird-like characters from the CBeebies television factory will be brought to life with inventive puppetry, mischief, music and plenty of surprises.

Written by Zoe Bourn, the 55-minute show is recommended for ages 1+; babes in arms are welcome too. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Joshua Burnell: York prog-folk musician will perform in a Songs Under Skies double bill on June 14. Picture: Elly Lucas

Outdoor gigs of the week ahead: Songs Under Skies 2, National Centre for Early Music churchyard, York June 14 to 16

SONGS Under Skies returns to the NCEM’s glorious gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, for acoustic double bills by Katie Spencer and Joshua Burnell on June 14, Zak Ford and Alice Simmons, June 15, and Epilogues and Sunflower Thieves, June 16.

As with last September’s debut series, season two of the open-air, Covid-safe concerts is presented by the NCEM in tandem with The Crescent community venue, the Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance.

Gates open at 6.30pm for each 7pm to 8.30pm concert with a 30-minute interval between sets. Tickets must be bought in advance, either in “pods” for family groups or as individuals at

Art at large: Subterranea Nostalgia, by Corrina Rothwell

Biggest painting of the week award: Corrina Rothwell’s Subterranea Nostalgia, in The Cacophany Of Ages at Pyramid Gallery, York, until July 1

CORRINA Rothwell’s exhibition of abstract works features the largest canvas painting in the near-30 years that Terry Brett has run Pyramid Gallery in York.

“Subterranea Nostalgia measures 1600mm by 1600mm. That was fun, getting it upstairs!” says Terry, whose gallery is housed in a National Trust-owned 15th century building in Stonegate. “The painting has a real impact. If you know anyone with really big walls, it would be perfect for them!”

Nottingham artist Corrina favours mixed media and acrylic on canvas for the paintings, on show at Pyramid and online at

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson’s Brian Clough goes to hell and back in his 44 days in charge of Leeds United in Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United

Football, football, football, not on the box but in a theatre: Red Ladder Theatre Company in The Damned United, York Theatre Royal, June 16

THE choice is yours: Italy versus Switzerland at the Euro 2020 on ITV at 8pm or the inner workings of Brian Clough’s troubled mind at Elland Road in 1974 at York Theatre Royal, kick-off 7.30pm.

Adapted from Yorkshireman David Peace’s biographical novel by Anders Lustgarten, The Damned United is a psychodrama that deconstructs Old Big ‘Ead’s 44 days as manager of Leeds United, whose Don Revie-tutored players he despised as much as they loathed him.

The double act of Luke Dickson’s flawed Clough and David Chafer’s avuncular Peter Taylor are joined by Jamie Smelt as everyone else in a story of sweat and booze, fury and power struggles, demons and defeats.

That’s a good idea…

Festival of the month: York Festival of Ideas 2021, running until June 20

THIS year marks the tenth anniversary of York’s bright idea of a festival dedicated to educating, entertaining and inspiring.

Under the banner of Infinite Horizons to reflect the need to adapt to pandemic, the Festival of Ideas is presenting a diverse programme of more than 150 free online and in-person events.

The best idea, when needing more info on the world-class speakers, performances, family activities and walking trails, is to head to

You kiss by the dock: Husband and wife Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy as Romeo and Juliet in Hull Truck Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet at Hull’s former dry dock

Outdoor play outside York announcement of the month: Hull Truck Theatre in Romeo & Juliet, Stage@The Dock, Hull, July 15 to August 7

AFTER John Godber Company’s Moby Dick completes its run at the converted Hull dry dockyard this Saturday, next comes Hull Truck Theatre’s al-fresco staging of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.

The title roles in Romeo & Juliet will be played by Hull-born husband and wife Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy, who appeared in The Hypocrite and The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca in 2017 as part of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture celebrations.

Metcalfe and Elsworthy, who married in the summer of 2018 after bonding when working on The Hypocrite, will play a stage couple for the first time, performing on a traverse stage to emphasise Verona’s divided society. Box office:

Hitting the Heights: Lucy McCormick’s wild-haired Cathy in the Wise Children poster for Emma Rice’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights, bound for York Theatre Royal

Looking ahead to the autumn: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights, York Theatre Royal, November 8 to 20

EMMA Rice’s Wise Children company is teaming up with the National Theatre, York Theatre Royal and the Bristol Old Vic for her elemental stage adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Yorkshire moorland story of love, vengeance and redemption.

In an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time shot through with music, dance, passion and hope, Rice’s company of performers and musicians will be led by Lucy McCormick’s Cathy.

“Emboldened and humbled by the enforced break, I feel truly lucky,” says Rice. “I cannot wait to get back to doing what I love most and to share this thrilling and important piece with the world. It’s time.”

An Evening With Julian Norton, vet, author and now show host, is booked in for Pocklington Arts Centre

Veterinary appointment in 2022: An Evening With Julian Norton, Pocklington Arts Centre, January 18

JULIAN Norton, author, veterinary surgeon and star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, will share amusing anecdotes from his work with animals in North Yorkshire, bringing to life all the drama and humour in the daily routine of a rural vet.

Following in the footsteps of James Herriot author Alf Wight, Norton has spent most of his working life in Thirsk. His latest book, All Creatures: Heart-warming Tales From A Yorkshire Vet, was published in March. Box office:

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to or

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides. 

Idea of the day at the online York Festival of Ideas: Technologies for the Future – A Response from the Heart, 4pm, 7/6/2020

Technologies for the future: under discussion by Alice Courvoisier. Drawing by:: Jess Wallace

SCIENTIST Alice Courvoisier takes a hard look at technologies we surround ourselves with, discussing their impact on our lives, the environment and the lives of others, in this afternoon’s audio podcast.

Most importantly, in Technologies for the Future – A Response from the Heart, she asks: what would form a sound basis for ethical and responsible technological innovation?

“In a context where technologies are often imposed from the top down or by for-profit corporations without proper public scrutiny, I believe this question is relevant to everyone and should be reclaimed by the public sphere,” says Alice, who taught mathematics in the electronic engineering department at the University of York and is a keen storyteller too.

“At this time of extreme uncertainty and misinformation, I will argue that meaningful answers can only come from reconnecting with our hearts.”

Alice, who has taken part in every York Festival of Ideas since 2013, adds: “Please be aware that some of the content can be emotionally challenging as we address issues such as environmental justice, cultural and unconscious bias, and work to dismantle the Western narrative of linear progress.”

Alice Courvoisier

Admission to this podcast is free; access is via Alice’s blog at Booking is not required.

“I love the freedom of thought offered by the Festival Of Ideas: to approach a theme from the viewpoints of different disciplines,” says Alice.

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas is full of ideas until June 14, gathering under the new umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For the full programme, visit

Did you know? Alice in numberland

Dr Alice Courvoisier taught a Lifelong Learning course on the History of Numbers at the University of York.